By the end of 1998 the provincial government admitted there was a chronic shortage of nurses in Saskatchewan. SUN was fighting to keep nurses in the profession and to maintain adequate staffing levels and a consistent quality of patient care. Nurses were leaving the profession because they were overworked, underpaid and undervalued. SUN argued if these issues were not addressed in the 1999 contract, there would be fewer nurses than ever, and levels of patient care would suffer accordingly.
In December 1998, 74% of SUN members, sickened by pay inequity, forced overtime and deteriorating working conditions, voted in favour of strike action. This was the first time in SUN's history that a strike vote had taken place before negotiations even began. Once again nurses were fighting for their rights, and at the same time fighting to protect their patients and the health care system as a whole.